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Business owners share concern over possible impacts of Piney Point contaminated water on Tampa Bay

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Apr 06, 2021

The concern continues over the impact of contaminated water from Piney Point being pumped into Tampa Bay. People who make a living on the water are keeping a close eye on the evolving situation.

Mike Goodwine with Blackneck Adventures has been a charter captain full-time for five years. He takes people along the south shore of Tampa Bay.

“[I] had a corporate job for 15 years and decided I wanted to go fishing for a living,” said Goodwine.

The unfolding situation at Piney Point now has his full attention. The contaminated water being drained into the Bay is nutrient-rich, which could possibly cause algae blooms and red tide in the future.

Goodwine says his main concern is the long-term effects. He explains if the fish leave the impacted area, he might need to relocate somewhere else to go fish, either up north or farther south.

“Relocate means I’ve got to travel farther, and gas prices are up, that means it’s going to hurt me a little bit,” said Goodwine. “It’s just having to relocate probably is the hard part because I know every nook and cranny of this part of the Bay.”

The Tampa Bay Estuary Program says it’s coordinating with regional partners to monitor the discharge’s environmental effects on Tampa Bay. Right now, charter captains told ABC Action News the water looks okay.

Jason Prieto, a charter captain with Steady Action Fishing Charters, said he fished on Monday within a few miles of the area where water is being pumped out.

“There was no dead fish. Marine life was fine,” said Prieto. “There was plenty of mullet, plenty of snook, plenty of redfish. Everything looked pretty normal. The water was not dirty by any means.”

Across the Bay in Pinellas County, beaches looked pristine on Tuesday. Bruno Falkenstein, the owner of Hurricane Seafood Restaurant in Pass-A-Grille, reflected on the impact of red tide three years ago in the Tampa Bay Area, a concern he says is still on his mind.

“Anybody that’s around water is going to have a devastating effect, and I don’t know quite frankly if a lot of us can handle this, a red tide along with the COVID shut down,” said Falkenstein.

The charter captains say for now, they’ll just watch and wait to see what happens and hope for minimal impacts on the environment and livelihoods.

“We finally bounced back after red tide, and some of the other captains who’ve been out here longer, they’ve seen it go [from] worse to bad, worse to bad, so it’s a wait game right now,” said Goodwine.